Gluten intolerance occurs when a person becomes sensitive to food containing wheat, barley or rye. Although scientists have identified a few genes that are responsible for gluten intolerance, they are still not clear why the condition occurs.
Gluten is a protein that is found in grass- related grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Wheat, however, remains the main gluten-based food. Wheat dough absorbs water and sticks together due to the presence of gluten. The protein also bestows wheat with its characteristic baking qualities.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance begin to show once a person has partaken of any food product that includes gluten. They include stomach bloating, pain in the stomach, diarrhea, nausea and fatigue. Other less common symptoms include headache, anxiety, numbness, confusion and joint or muscle pain. It must be noted that severe stomach ache is not regarded as a sign of gluten intolerance and must be treated immediately.
To diagnose gluten intolerance, the individual must not stop consuming wheat-based products before consulting a doctor. Otherwise the symptoms would disappear and the condition would remain undetected until it recurs suddenly.
The doctor begins diagnosis by taking the history of the disease in the patient and by looking out for the symptoms that may indicate gluten intolerance. The best diagnostic method is the elimination test by which the individual eliminates gluten 100 % from the diet and re-introduces it after a period of time. If the symptoms reduce the first time and then flares again on re-introduction, the problem could indeed be gluten intolerance.
Some of the symptoms of gluten-intolerance overlap with those of other conditions of the stomach, so it is important to rule them out. A blood test may also be done for certain antibodies that could indicate celiac disease, which is a disease that mimics gluten intolerance. An analysis carried out on biopsied sample of the intestinal lining can also help rule out celiac disease.
Thus, by eliminating other diseases and by matching the symptoms with those of gluten intolerance, diagnosis is made. Research is on to find out if some other component of wheat is causing the symptoms associated with gluten-intolerance.
It is important to understand that glucose intolerance is different from wheat allergy. In addition to all the symptoms of gluten intolerance, those with wheat allergy develop rashes or hives all over their body when they consume wheat products. They also experience great difficulty in breathing and must be rushed to the hospital to avoid fatality.
Managing the Malady
Those who are gluten-intolerant must avoid breads, biscuits, pastas and certain seasonings and spices that contain gluten. Avoidance must be 100% as even trace amounts of gluten can trigger an immune reaction. These days it’s not difficult to pick and choose as most of the store-bought foods are clearly labeled. Moreover, a dietician may be consulted to help chart out a diet plan that is best suited for gluten-sensitive individuals.
It would do good for those who are gluten –intolerant to note that eating gluten even once a month can raise their risk of death by 600%. So,
Be Cautious – Be Safe!